Panel 2 - Better Believe It: Free Exercise and the First Amendment

FedSoc Events

May 31 2022 • 1 hr 12 mins

Leading the charge for abolition during the Civil War-era, among others, were abolitionists with deeply held religious beliefs. Today, virtually everyone supports religious liberty and virtually everyone opposes discrimination. But how do we handle the hard questions that arise when exercises of religious liberty seem to discriminate unjustly? Or when anti-discrimination laws unjustly constrain religious liberty? How do we promote the common good while respecting conscience in a diverse society? For example, many religious liberty questions have arisen in response to the redefinition of marriage, such as when bakers, florists, and photographers who do not wish to prove same-sex wedding services and charge for discrimination. This conflict extends well beyond the LGBT arena, notably in the abortion debate. What counts as discrimination, when is it unjust, and when should it be unlawful? Should the law give religion and conscience special protection at all, and if so, why? Might the protection of religious liberty for all serve the ever so pressing need to calming fear and polarization in today’s society?

Prof. Thomas C. Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Justin Edward Butterfield, Deputy General Counsel, First Liberty Institute
D. John Sauer, Solicitor General, Missouri
Moderator: Hon. James C. Ho, Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit